As we enter the summer, it’s inevitable that manufacturers and carriers that released phones earlier on in the year will be enticing people in with new offers. Considering that Qualcomm is still working on their next-generation Snapdragon 820 CPU, it doesn’t look like the second half of the year is going to hold many surprises. Of course, the OnePlus Two is coming, as is the Xperia Z3+ from Sony which is almost on shelves. The Galaxy Note 5 won’t be launching for a few months yet, but we have heard rumors of new Motorola devices launching soon, so there are things to look forward to.
10. OnePlus One
The OnePlus Two is coming, the incessant drip, drip of information makes it pretty hard to avoid this knowledge. The OnePlus One starting something off though, it introduced us to the CyanogenMod smartphone and with a 5.5-inch 1080p display, a Snapdragon 801 and a minimal, yet appealing design the OnePlus One was a different approach. We’re all excited for the next version, but considering the original is still very capable and has great developer support, now isn’t an awful time to get one.
09. Sony Xperia Z3
While the Xperia Z3 is an excellent device, it’s fairly tough to get hold of in the US – unless you’re a T-Mobile customer – and compared to other devices from the second half of 2014, the Xperia Z3 didn’t go quite as far as it could have. It stuck with the Snapdragon 801, 3GB of RAM and 5.2-inch display that the Xperia Z2 launched with this time last year, and it didn’t change much at all from the overall experience. Still, if you want a Sony device, the Xperia Z3 has nice, fairly untouched software (complete with a recent upgrade to Lollipop) and it’s a well-built smartphone. On Verizon, customers can grab the Xperia Z3v, and while the Xperia Z3+ is approaching it’s hard to see if it’ll have the same sort of release as the Xperia Z3 did.
08. Motorola Moto X (2014)
Let’s not beat around the bush, the Moto X is looking a little old these days, its Snapdragon 801 and 1080p AMOLED display weren’t the best when they launched. A new Moto X is sure to be in the works, but as they continue to fall in price, they’re still a great device to pick up even now. With Moto Maker you can choose from wood, leather or a myriad of color options, so if you want a great smartphone to live with that doesn’t try too hard to be anything more than it is, the Moto X (2014) will be just what you’re looking for.
07. LG G Flex 2
LG’s G Flex 2 was one of the first devices to be announced in 2015, and also one of the first with a Snapdragon 810. In a fetching new red color, the 5.5-inch curvy smartphone looks great, however it’s not quite the smartphone we were hoping it to be. Following in the footsteps of the original G Flex, which offered a phone that you could genuinely flex and had a curved display from top-to-bottom, the Plastic OLED flexible panel just doesn’t do enough to feel worth it right now. The Snapdragon 810 inside the G Flex 2 doesn’t perform as we’d like and it’s sadly not what we were expecting from LG this time around. Our review can be found here.
06. Motorola DROID Turbo
The DROID Turbo is a classic case of that carrier exclusive smartphone you wish was available elsewhere. Not only does the DROID Turbo look great, but the 5.2-inch Quad HD display, Snapdragon 805 and a massive 3,900 mAh make this a smartphone to admire. It’s exclusive to Verizon’s network, which may or may not be the deal breaker for you here, but if their network has never let you down and you’re happy paying a little extra, then this could be the best device available on Verizon. For some time now, the DROID Turbo has languished on Android 4.4 KitKat, but Android 5.1 Lollipop has just arrived, and it’s brilliant.
05. HTC One M9
The HTC One M9 was released towards the beginning of this year, and as we discovered in our review there isn’t all that much to write home about. This is when we’re talking about the HTC One M8 of course, but the M9 is a Snapdragon 810 powered device with 3GB of RAM and a 5.0-inch 1080p display and it’s just as good-looking as last year’s model. The camera is the biggest change this year with a 20.7-megapixel sensor instead of an UltraPixel sensor. The camera is a high point here, as is the excellent build quality, but if you were hoping for something a little newer, then there are other options to consider. It’s a shame that the M9+ wasn’t what HTC released in the first place, as that would have given Samsung something to seriously worry about.
04. Google Nexus 6
Project Fi is starting to arrive and the Android M preview available, it’s an exciting time to be a Nexus 6 customer, and now that there’s a sale going on, this is a good time to jump in. With a Snapdragon 805, 3GB of RAM and a Quad HD display, this holds up as one of the most powerful devices available, even in the face of the Snapdragon 810. With stock Android onboard you’re assured speedy updates and it’s a good phone for those looking to tinker and mess around with Android as well. The Nexus 6 is also the only smartphone that can enjoy Google’s vision for what a wireless network could be, Project Fi, so it recently gained one more string to its bow. It might be pricey, but if you’re interested in a powerful, well built Android smartphone the Nexus 6 is a great way to go.
03. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
One of the few devices available that takes a stylus and turns it into an exceptionally useful tool, the Galaxy Note 4 is one hell of a smartphone, especially if you want something with a larger display. The 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display is bright, colorful and the Snapdragon 805 under the hood works great, too. A device for those needing to get something done, the Galaxy Note 4 is an excellent follow-up to the Galaxy Note 3.
02. LG G4
When LG announced the G4, they announced a device that built on a previous generation, while also offering something new to users. Sony and HTC can’t seem to do this, with devices that offer people very little in the way of upgrades. LG however, have improved their Quad HD display, vastly improved their already excellent camera with a 16-megapixel sensor, better OIS for steady shots, a color spectrum sensor and full manual controls. The Snapdragon 808 on the inside shows that LG is more interested in the overall experience, than they are raw specs. The G4 is available with leather backs, and just goes to show us what South Korean manufacturers are really capable of. A great device for 2015, LG have given Samsung something to worry about, it’s just a shame for LG that Samsung are having a good year. We recently took another look at this gem.
01. Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge
Samsung have outdone themselves this year with the launch of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. Yes, there’s no longer a removable battery or microSD card slot, but what you gain is a metal build that feels excellent in the hand. Plus, this is the one device that will buck the trend this year of using a Snapdragon processor and instead uses Samsung’s Exynos 7420 with great results. It looks good, the color options are great and the camera is vastly improved upon. The Galaxy S6 Edge is essentially the same phone with sloped edges either side. As of right now, these don’t do too much but over time, developers will harness this new hardware for all sorts of new features. The Galaxy S6 duo are the best smartphones that Samsung have ever made and the fact that they eschew the Snapdragon 810 which is rare misstep for Qualcomm makes the Galaxy S6 one of the devices to buy in 2015. Our review of this duo can be found here.